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It’s time to wean this bull

We had two calves born in late 2021, and our original plan was to have them nurse for at least 6 months, while sharing the milk with us. We let the calves have all the milk over the winter, so we could take a break from milking during the cold weather. In the spring of 2022 we began separating the calves from their dams first thing in the morning, milking in the evening and then reuniting the calves and cows overnight.

As Orion approached the 6 month mark, his dam (Mulberry) was losing condition (getting too thin) so we decided to separate her indefinitely and milk her once per day while working on getting her weight up a bit. We put Orion in with the other cow (Moonbeam) and her heifer calf (Starlight). 

We expected Orion would try to nurse Moonbeam, but we weren’t sure if she would allow it. Since he was just a week or so shy of 6 months old, we were okay with him weaning if that happened. Moonbeam went on to nurse him, while still nursing her own calf, and a couple of months later we borrowed a bull so she was also pregnant again while nursing these two large calves. We were very impressed with her ability to hold her condition through it all!

Moonbeam with Starlight (13 months) and Orion (11 months)

Fast forward to the spring of 2023 and it’s time to wean the bull! Moonbeam was able to wean her own calf Starlight when she was around 15 months old, but Orion persisted in nursing longer. He is now 15 months old as well.

Weaning a calf and drying off a cow don’t typically occur simultaneously, but when a 15 month old bull is nursing, and the cow is approaching the last two months of her current pregnancy, time is of the essence! Ideally, we want to give the cow a break from lactating and we want to make sure her next calf is not competing with a much larger animal for the colostrum that is crucial for its survival.

Fence Line Weaning Method

We used the “fence line weaning” method, meaning that the calf is on the other side of a shared fence from the cow. We used two hot wires – one at a height to prevent nursing and the other at a height to prevent him stepping over into the cow’s paddock. In our experience, all the cows are much more at ease with separation when they are near each other and can even continue to have physical contact with each other over the fence (like in the video below).

Moonbeam and Orion at the shared fence line

Drying Off

Since we hadn’t been milking Moonbeam for several months before starting the weaning/drying off process, I wasn’t sure how much milk she was currently making.

After 24 hours I checked her udder visually to get an idea of how much milk appeared to be building up. It was getting fuller but was not uncomfortably tight from what I could see.

After 48 hours I set her up for milking as her udder was becoming tight all over. She carries her milk high, and at that point it looked full all over and her highest producing quarter felt like it had a clogged duct (but was not hot, which would indicate infection).

I massaged her udder and milked 1/2 gallon to relieve the pressure, but left plenty of milk behind. The more milk you take out the more milk the cow’s body will continue to make. Decreasing demand tells her body to slow down production. In the past I’ve done a much slower drying off (which I preferred and felt was less of a shock to the cow) but we started closer to calving this time and went faster.

I kept an eye on her and the clogged duct and milked again another 48 hours later; this time less than 1 quart, just enough for the udder to feel a little softer. The clogged duct is still there but softer and still not hot. Overall her udder is much less tight and I don’t think she needs to be milked again but I will keep an eye on her and relieve pressure only if necessary until she’s dried off. We won’t have the bull in with her again until her nursing relationship with her new calf is well established and we’re ready for her to become pregnant again!


If you have anything to add to this topic or questions you’d like to ask, we have a discussion on this topic in the Holistic Homestead Course Forum!

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Deworming – not just for livestock!

If you have chickens or any other livestock, I bet you’re familiar with the idea that deworming is beneficial for them (after all they eat off of the ground and seem to love drinking the least fresh water they can find 🤪)

…but did you know you and your family can benefit as well?

If you’ve ever noticed moods, energy or sleep are thrown off around the full moon – it could be because that’s when parasites are most active. This makes it a great time to support your body in flushing them out!

You can start up to a week before and continue up to a week after the full moon, or you can do just a couple days on either side of the full moon. I’d start with less and increase if you don’t see results.

What do we use and why?

We use Oregano Vitality and Clove Vitality essential oils (plus a couple of bonus options I’ll share at the end).

Oregano Vitality will help to break down the biofilm parasites hide in and support the body’s ability to restore balance by eliminating an abundance of undesirable parasites. Clove Vitality will kill eggs so that new parasites don’t immediately take their place. 

If you’re doing the full two weeks, skip clove on days 1 & 2.


• 2 drops oregano

• 1 drop clove

For adults:

• Add oils to a clear veggie capsule and top with carrier oil

For kids:

• Rub oils on the bottom of their feet at bedtime. Make sure they don’t touch their feet (it can sting if they touch their eyes after).

For animals:

• Add oils to feed or water. If adding to feed we soak it in water, skimmed milk or whey. If adding to water we also add 1 spray of Thieves cleaner to emulsify (otherwise the oils float on top of the water).

That’s it! Grab your supplies now before the next full moon comes around!

PS If you’re wanting to take it to the next level, ParaFree soft gels are formulated with an advanced blend of some of the strongest essential oils studied for their cleansing abilities! And ParaGize is blended specifically to support your animals’ natural cleansing system. See my Parasite Cleanse and ParaFree highlights for more info.

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What one supplement do all livestock need?

There’s one supplement we give to every animal on our farm – cows, sheep, poultry, pig and even our guardian dogs!

We give it because of how much it provides in bioavailable minerals, which effect their ability to stay well and thrive in so many ways, especially during our current times of depleted soils making everything growing in them deficient.

And no this is not a paid partnership or giveaway 😂, I just think so many animals could benefit if their people knew about this supplement!

So what is it? Kelp, specifically Thorvin kelp. Here’s some info from their website:

Thorvin is a 100% natural feed supplement for supporting optimal livestock health. It is nature’s most complete source of bioavailable minerals, vitamins, and beneficial phytonutrients. Thorvin works by filling in micronutrient deficiencies. Every ounce provides nutritional essentials, for just pennies a day.

The most nutrient‐dense kelp animal supplement on the market, Thorvin is harvested from the cleanest kelp beds on earth, and then dried at controlled low temperatures using geothermal energy to concentrate its rich nutrient profile.

Thorvin contains one‐third less moisture, 30% more iodine, and is the only kelp supplement with a guaranteed selenium claim. Whether you are a formulator or farmer, you get more nutrients per pound, and feed less. Thorvin makes good business sense!

Blend Thorvin into feed formulas, or feed it alone or mixed with salt. Naturally chelated, Thorvin is bioavailable and readily utilized; it only takes small amounts to deliver benefits to livestock at all stages of life.

What the Experts Say 🤓

“I have observed Thorvin improving dairy cow health and performance on farms for 20+ years.” Gary Zimmer, Biological Farming Expert & Dairy Farmer (WI)

“If you’re raising broilers, I sure hope you’re feeding Thorvin.” Kipp Jaszewski, Mountain Meadow Farm (VA)

“When I encounter pinkeye, hairy warts, ringworm, or breeding problems, my first question to farm clients is, ‘Are you feeding Thorvin?’” Paul Dettloff, D.V.M & Livestock Consultant (WI)

“I switched to Thorvin and saw an almost immediate difference in the quality of the milk – higher butterfat and higher production.” Kristie Miller, (MI)

“We prefer Thorvin. Other kelps just don’t contain the same mineral levels.” Joel Salatin, Farmer & Author, Polyface Farms (VA)

“Thorvin is a standard part of our feed program because it keeps our herd healthy.” Tony Azevedo, Dairy Farmer and Past President, WODPA (CA)

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How many chickens is the right number of chickens?

Lately I’ve been contemplating how many chickens is the right number of chickens. I think the sweet spot lies somewhere between the low end being the amount of chickens your property can feed with on site food sources (like Joel Salatin mentions in the audio) and the high end being the number you need for your personal egg consumption and hatching to sustain your flock.

Chickens are the least sustainable of all the animals we raise. That is partly because we’ve been raising enough chickens to provide hatching eggs for many other families, not just what we need here.

We recently used the last of the eggs we had stored from spring and summer, and we’re feeding about 150 chickens right now since there’s not much for them to forage during winter, while only collecting 2-6 eggs per day since they don’t lay during the dark short days.

We do have some on site resources to feed them, but not enough fire this size of a flock and so we’ve been refining our flock and hatching eggs offerings for a number of years, getting closer to the target of that sweet spot.

For 2023 we are focusing more on Bresse and less on having a lot of breeds for rainbow hatching eggs. Bresse are becoming more popular since they are a meat breed but still provide plenty of beer large eggs, and those eggs are hatchable too so each family that keeps them has their own source of chicks for both chicken eggs and meat.

Have you figured out what your sweet spot is?

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Urgent! Tell Congress your thoughts on homeopathy

In a drastic reversal of its previous policy, the FDA now considers ALL homeopathic medicines to be “unapproved new drugs” subject to pharmaceutical-specific premarket approval requirements or removal from the market at any time without notice as “illegally” marketed products.

With the FDA making its proposed new guidance final this month, we now must face the prospect that at least some of our cherished medicines could be gone in the new year as the FDA decides to eliminate remedies that it considers “too risky” without having to provide any evidence of problems. This is something which is explicitly allowed by the guidance.

We must turn to Congress and ask them to step in with legislation that protects homeopathic medicines from the FDA’s vague and overly broad (mis)guidance that could lead to arbitrary and unfounded withdrawals of properly manufactured and labeled homeopathic medicines that threaten no one (and the FDA has even done so already when it was in draft form!).

Ask your legislators to join the growing bipartisan coalition of offices seeking to preserve the right to choose homeopathic medicines.

Tell Congress the FDA’s (Mis)Guidance is Wrong

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Your top two Guinea questions answered

Ask me any others in the comments and I’ll do my best to help!

1️⃣ Differences between Guineas and Chickens? Do you have to put them up at night?

🪶Guineas eggs are slightly smaller but yolks are same size.

🪶Guinea meat is darker and leaner (some friends have told me they love the meat, we haven’t tried it yet).

🪶Guineas range far but always stick together in a group, they don’t separate like chickens do (ours stay in our perimeter fence, if you don’t have one consider neighbors).

🪶Guineas can fly better than chickens, though they stick to the ground in general.

🪶Guineas prefer to sleep up high in the open air vs. most chickens prefer to sleep inside a coop. If you want guineas protected in a coop at night you’ll have to teach them to go in. For eg, feed them inside the coop at sunset. They do go to the same place every night so I don’t think you’d have to do this indefinitely, just until they learn.

🪶Guinea babies (keets) don’t know what to eat and not eat. The brooder should be all feed on the bottom, no bedding.

🪶Guineas have the potential to be much louder than chickens! We raised ours indoors for a month and in a rabbit tractor near our house for another month. They are very comfortable and friendly with us and the loud noise they can make has been extremely rare in our experience.

2️⃣ Pros and cons? I’m wondering if we should consider getting some for tick control.

🪶 Besides considering the differences above, I’ll keep this short to the one most important pro: if you have ticks in your area and have at least some space for guineas to range, I don’t think you’ll regret it. We have had up to 300 chickens at a time ranging throughout our property and they never put a dent in the ticks. We have 5 guineas and they’ve wiped out the tick population!

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Adrenal Cocktail Recipe

What is an Adrenal Cocktail and do I need one?

An adrenal cocktail is not an alcoholic drink, but a nourishing drink that can help stabilize your energy and support well being by providing the essential minerals that are missing from our modern diets. Getting all the minerals your body needs helps support your adrenal health and more.

What does adrenal health have to do with energy? Your adrenal glands are endocrine glands that produce a variety of hormones including adrenaline and the steroids aldosterone and cortisol, which effect metabolism, glucose usage, blood pressure, immunity, and stress response regulation.

What symptoms indicate adrenals need support?

  • Hair loss
  • Slumps in the afternoon
  • Dry skin
  • Low libido
  • PMS
  • Irregular menses
  • Infertility
  • Feeling cold when others feel warm
  • Exhaustion even with enough of sleep
  • Brain fog, irritability and anxiousness
  • Burst of energy in the evening
  • Inconsistent sleep patterns
  • Craving salty or sweet foods

How to make an adrenal cocktail

To make an adrenal cocktail three crucial ingredients are needed to restore the balance of vitamins, minerals, and electrolytes your body needs to replenish cortisol, regulate blood sugar, and balance hormones to alleviate adrenal fatigue symptoms!

  • Whole food vitamin C
  • Potassium
  • Sodium

From there, you can add on additional options to increase energy and minerals, which are depleted in most of us. For example, maple syrup for glucose and additional minerals. Collagen for essential amino acids to sustain blood sugar regulation.

Adrenal Cocktail Recipe

  • Whole food C source: 4-6 ounces organic lemon or orange juice, freshly squeezed if possible
  • Potassium source: 1/4 cup organic coconut water or 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • Sodium source: pinch – 1/4 tsp Himalayan or Redmond salt
  • 1 scoop Inner Beauty Collagen
  • 1 tube NingXia Nitro
  • Splash raw heavy cream
  • 1 Tbsp organic maple syrup
  • 1/2-1 ounce magnesium bicarbonate
  • Sparkling or Soda Stream water to top off

Mix all ingredients in a 12 ounce cup/jar and top with sparkling water. Sip throughout the day or drink during the afternoon energy slump.

Orange Creamsicle Recipe with additional Mineral Rich + Inflammation Support Supplements

  • Whole food C source: 4-6 ounces organic orange juice, freshly squeezed if possible
  • Potassium source: 1/4 cup organic coconut water or 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • Sodium source: 1/4 tsp Himalayan or Redmond salt
  • 5 half dropper fulls of Mineral Essence
  • 1/2 teaspoon Golden Turmeric
  • Splash raw heavy cream
  • 1/2-1 ounce magnesium bicarbonate
  • Sparkling or Soda Stream water to top off

Mix all ingredients in a 12 ounce cup/jar and top with sparkling water. Sip throughout the day or drink during the afternoon energy slump.

More About Mineral Essence

This supplement provides essential ionic minerals, which are the most fully and quickly absorbed form of minerals available. It’s an excellent source of magnesium and also contains more than 60 different minerals, in the right balance our bodies need plus additional ingredients for added vitamins and nutrient absorption.

  • Balanced, full-spectrum ionic mineral complex
  • Enhanced with essential oils
  • Excellent source of magnesium


Mineral Essence is a broad spectrum supplement that combines sixty two ionic minerals in a base of royal jelly as well as cinnamon, lemon and peppermint essential oil.

Ionic trace minerals in Mineral Essence from salt include Calcium, Magnesium, Chloride, Sodium, Potassium, Sulfate, Lithium, Boron, Bromide, Carbonate, Fluoride, Silicon, Nitrogen, Selenium, Phosphorus, Iodide, Chromium, Iron, Manganese, Titanium, Rubidium, Cobalt, Copper, Antimony, Arsenic,Molybdenum, Strontium, Zinc, Nickel, Tungsten, Germanium, Aluminum, Scandium, Vanadium, Tellurium, Barium, Tin, Lanthanum, Lead, Yttrium, Silver, Cadmium, Uranium, Gallium, Bismuth, Zirconium, Cerium, Cesium, Gold, Beryllium, Hafnium, Samarium, Terbium, Europium, Gadolinium, Mercury, Dysprosium, Thorium, Holmium, Lutetium, Thulium, Erbium, Ytterbium, Neodymium, Praseodymium, Niobium, Tantalum, Thallium, Rhenium, Indium, Palladium, Platinum.

The essential oils of Lemon, Cinnamon, and Peppermint enable the ionic mineral complex to be absorbed at the cellular level more easily.

Royal jelly is rich in amino acids, minerals and Vitamins B6 and B5. May support healthy endocrine system.

Honey contains antioxidants, amino acids and vital minerals and vitamins including B vitamins.

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Non-industrial cheese and milk ferments

This year we have been getting double the milk that we got last year (Mulberry’s second lactation). I started experimenting with fermenting – clabber, yogurt, sour cream, cultured butter… and I wanted to learn to make hard cheeses to preserve milk much longer.

After the first three cheese making books I bought severely disappointed I’m so thankful a couple of friends recommended The Art of Natural Cheesemaking by David Asher!

Not only have I learned so much more about the history of cheese and how milk becomes cheese, I now have all the info I need to make just about any fermented milk food that I want without any questionable gmo or lab made ingredients so we can preserve our milk harvest in the most delicious and nourishing way without any compromises or industrial influences!

Even if you’re only dreaming of having your own milk animal or can only get pasteurized milk where you are, I still think reading this book would be a good investment of your time! (In the past I’ve found it easier to learn new cooking skills when I was sourcing the ingredients from local farms rather than growing/harvesting myself.)

This book has also given me a new appreciation for kefir, which is so good for us – it can transform pasteurized milk into near raw milk qualities and is useful in so many ways with making ferments!

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One is the reels I made on a Instagram about unconventional things I mix in to my coffee has been played 278k times! This is another thing I mix into my coffee every single morning!

Our iced coffee days are coming to an end for the season, but whether hot or cold this is my new favorite coffee mix in!

Before this summer I had no idea that there are 28 different types of collagen and the most abundant collagen in our bodies not only begins to decline starting at age 25, it also isn’t the primary collagen in beef, chicken or lamb broth – which is what I make 99% of the time. 😅

Enter Inner Beauty Collagen! It’s made from fish scales and skin and contains the type of collagen our bodies need for skin to maintain structure and elasticity, prevent wrinkles, irregularities, redness etc.

This supplement also contains other active ingredients such as vitamin C since your body can’t properly utilize the collagen without it, prebiotics that help balance the gut microbiome for improved gut-skin axis and clearer complexion.

Check out my Type I Collagen highlight on Instagram if you want to learn more, or you can just skip to the good part and grab yours using the product link in this reel. When you order through my link, I’ll also send you some extra goodies and connect you to our private wellness community! 🤗